The Bradley Manning Trial: The Secret After the Sentence


Manning’s backers gathered at Fort Meade, Md., on the day the sentence was read.

The morning after being sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking the largest trove of classified military documents in U.S. history, Army Pvt. Bradley Manning shared another secret; this one was personal. “I want everyone to know the real me,” Manning wrote in a statement. “I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female.”

“This is absolutely not a surprise to trans people such as myself,” says activist Lauren McNamara, to whom Manning confided in February 2009, over a year before her arrest. And in April 2010, Manning sent a photo of herself dressed as a woman to a superior officer in an e-mail with the subject “My problem.” But Manning’s lawyer David Coombs stated on Today that the stress of being transgendered in the military was unrelated to the former intelligence officer’s decision to hand over 700,000 Iraq and Afghanistan battlefield reports to the website WikiLeaks: “What drove [her] actions was a strong moral compass.”

Manning’s Aug. 22 request “to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible” adds another twist to an already controversial legal case. An official at the all-male Fort Leavenworth prison, where Manning could be eligible for parole in seven years, says the Army “doesn’t provide” hormone therapy to inmates; Manning has since stated she will pay for treatments. Whatever the outcome, her Oklahoma childhood friend Chera Moore remains optimistic that Manning’s decision to become a woman is a good thing. “I just hope,” says Moore, “that this finally helps him find peace and be happy.”

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